Leaders are readers. It’s a simple truth that can’t be repeated enough. Reading opens one up to worlds that would otherwise go unexplored, uncovers and repairs blind spots, and grows your brain. What’s not to like?
I read a lot of books last year across all sorts of genres. Leadership books, theology books, biographies, and even the occasional fantasy novel (guilty pleasure). Included below are my five favorites with a few short thoughts and links to purchase if you’re so inclined, plus five more I haven’t gotten to yet but plan on reading over Christmas.
1. Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals– An awesome book that kicked off my 2014, you can read my fuller review here. The title sums the book up perfectly, it’s a helpful, engaging, and memorable work on motivation and goal setting.
2. A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships– A powerful read that uses the Biblical story of Ruth to teach on what it means to love. This is one of those books that will stick with me for a long time. Whether you’re intimately familiar with Ruth’s story or totally unfamiliar with it this book will speak to you and challenge you in what it means for you to love others.
3. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration– Probably the coolest book I read in 2014. In it Ed Catmull the President of Pixar reflects on his journey to understand why some creative companies succeed and others fail. You can read my fuller review here.
4. Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Second Edition– I was introduced to this book at the 2014 Global Leadership Summit at Willow Creek Community Church. It’s a great resource for having the crucial conversations you need to have to improve your life or business. One of the most practical books I read all year.
5. The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher– An engaging biography about one of the most fascinating figures of the 1800’s. Henry Ward Beecher was a famous Pastor who became a national influencer in the latter half of the 19th century. As time went on his personal life became as flawed as his professional life was successful and the author does a good job documenting Beecher’s surprising rise to prominence and sordid fall from grace.
Bonus post! Here are the five books I’ll be reading over Christmas to finish out the year.
1. Never Go Back: 10 Things You’ll Never Do Again– I can’t resist Henry Cloud books. This is his newest and it walks through ten things successful people have learned from experience to never go back to doing. Cloud’s Boundaries for Leaders was my favorite book of 2013. You can read my review of that one here.
2. Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis– This book has me excited because it combines a few of my favorite things: biography, war stories, and Christianity. It details the ministry of Henry Gerecke, the “…unassuming Lutheran Pastor from Missouri who shepherded six of the most notorious Nazis to the gallows.”
3. George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father– A new biography of one of the most successful evangelists of all time. Whitefield was a powerhouse for Christ in 18th Century America and saw untold thousands come to Christ under his ministry. I’ve always been fascinated by Whitefield’s life but have never read a biography of him. I can’t wait to start this one.
4. The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism– I guess I’m going heavy on the biographies this Christmas. This one follows the unique friendship of President Theodore Roosevelt and his handpicked successor William Taft. I know next to nothing about both men but look forward to learning more about them and what made them so successful.
5. God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients Our World– David Brooks is one of the most prophetic voices in evangelicalism today. His books always make me uncomfortable in a good way. He’s not afraid to ask the tough questions of sacred cows and practices that may be more American than they are Biblical, I can’t wait to dig into this one.